A few weeks ago our worship service focused on questions asked by the congregation of the ministerial staff. During the services we heard some incredible and thoughtful answers without the advantage of considering the questions in advance. We collected all the questions you asked and compiled them in a virtual “Question Box” which the ministers on staff will attempt to answer from time to time. The questions are these:
Religious and Pastoral:
- What is the meaning of life?
- Why are humans here on this earth?
- How do we make sense of suffering?
- Should we always take the risk?
- How can we break procrastination?
- What is up with the singular form of ‘they’ and how do we manage this new vocabulary?
- What is your favorite part of being a minister of this congregation?
- Is there ever something you want to change?
- Can people live morally without a belief in heaven and hell?
- What happens to our souls when we die?
- Is it just our church that moved away from more traditional Christianity in our UU service?
- If there is a god, where does he/she live?
- What does the holy trinity really mean? Specifically the third part (Holy Ghost)?
- Why isn’t there more scripture from the Bible?
- What is your favorite word or phrase for the Mystery/God?
- Do you believe our spirit lives on? In what way? Any connection with those we know?
- How do we keep fear from entering our minds?
- How do we remain at peace during the storm? How do we stay grounded?
- When life is so sweet how can one still feel like a ship with no rudder? What is missing?
- I feel awkward praying with/for someone, and need suggestions
- Can we have worship on the history of UU?
- I would like UU’s to be more concerned about world suffering – Africa, the Middle East, etc.
- What do UU’s believe about life after death? Reincarnation, hell, heaven, the soul?
- When was the moment you said ‘yes’ to Unitarian Universalism?
- Other than UU, what other religious beliefs speak to you, if any?
- What is the commonality between Unitarian Universalism and other faiths?
- Is the UU faith growing or losing members?
- Could you do a sermon on the Universalists?
- Why did the Unitarians and Universalists merge?
- How can I learn more as a new UU? Is there a book which is a good starter?
- What influence did Jan Hus have on UUism? Was it worth his life?
- What is our membership?
- People here seem to know each other. How do I break in, get involved, and meet people?
- How can we as laypeople bring in new friends/members?
- What are we doing to attract more millennials and GenXs to the church?
- For those of us who come from another faith, how do we help our families understand our choice to change?
- Name three things a new member can do to become involved, comfortable and included
- Can we alter the covenant to say “Love is the spirit of this congregation”?
- It is unpleasant to me to start the service with so much noise. Can we use the brass bowl and start the show with dignity?
For Rev. Ed:
- What’s your favorite choir?
- How do you choose hymns to sing?
- Is there an upcoming special projects choir service? When? Any details you can share?
- How do you stay through all these changes in our congregation and maintain your wonderful spirit?
- What are your sources of inspiration when you are composing a new work?
For Rev. Shelly:
- How can we better support the youth group ministry?
- What is the plan to make or increase the inclusion of young families?
For Rev. John:
- Several weeks ago you seemed to say that not all religions meet at the same final point, be it a god or an ultimate truth. I had thought they did, so please explain
- Do you still see yourself as an “enchanted agnostic with mystical tendencies”?
- What is the worst thing to ever happen to you as a UU minister?
- What do you see as your accomplishments? What is to come?
About the building:
- It’s not easy for groups to recycle larger plastic bottles and other recyclables. Can we remedy this? There are no large recycle bins in or outside the kitchen
- There are many strong personalities that have graced this sacred place. Are there any spirits that reside here and if so what do they think about the potential disruption of construction?
- How do we justify spending $2million to renovate and beautify our church in a world where many of our neighbors are poor and hungry?
- What are we doing about using renewables (solar and batteries) in our future footprint?
- Will new renovations have better access?”
Thank you for these questions. The ministerial staff is impressed by your willingness to ask and the depth of the questions themselves. There were several that were too sensitive to offer up here. If you were one of the ones who asked a question that you didn’t see here please let me know. We want to help. Our ministry is ready to help. You are not alone.
I know that I will have much to say about some of these questions over the coming months. While we can’t guarantee that every question will be answered, please know we did read them. We will offer another “Question Box Service” in March so stay tuned.
We are an inquisitive faith, and I, for one, am entirely grateful that we are. Perhaps this Thanksgiving, we might offer up some questions as a form of prayer. At the very least, I am reminded of what Anne Lamott wrote about gratitude:
“Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means that you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back.”
― Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
See you in Church, Rev. John